Dandelion Dreaming

As a small child, I thought everyone laid on the grass with their dad in the yard to watch the clouds. I can remember feeling so special laying side by side with him, our heads touching, sharing the magic of the rivers of clouds floating in the deep blue water of the sky. We played a game of who could see the most fantastic being and then describe them to each other, making up stories about them as they shape-shifted above us. I don’t remember any of the stories explicitly, but I do remember being encouraged to use my imagination. Being mesmerized by the delightful patterns and fluffy shapes of the flowing clouds was the beginning of my lifelong fascination with our Mother Earth’s creations. What a gift my dad gave me, that I didn’t fully appreciate until decades later.

Ostensibly, our excuse for being in the yard was to pull weeds, and those weeds happened to be Dandelions for the most part. More than pulling them, I remember blowing on their puffballs and putting their flowers in my hair, and they became part of our reverie and storytelling. Like children have likely done for thousands of years, I learned to pick the seedheads, make a wish and then try to blow all the seeds off in one breath. If only I could remember what I wished for, I wonder if it came to be? Perhaps even, it is still in the process of becoming.

For me, Dandelions are the plant of dreams. That is how I met them, blowing their puffballs into the billowy summer clouds and imagining what could be. These dreams and wishes matter because the life force energy of our Mother Earth and all beings on our planet including the Dandelions, are continuously dreaming themselves into being. My friend Finn Schubert says, “Realness is a gift we give to ourselves.” By this he means that when we believe in the dream that we hold for ourselves, then it can become real. It can become matter. And he says that we must be patient and give it time. The timeline might be short, or it may take more than a lifetime, perhaps even an eon. In all cases, these dreams matter.


We have been raised in our culture to think that the material world evolves as a matter of cause and effect—survival of the fittest. And while these scientific ways of looking at the world are certainly true, what if there are larger life forces at work than we can know with our human senses and minds? What role do dreams—the dreams of the clouds, the dreams of the flowers, dreams of all beings, dreams of the Earth Herself—play in our becoming, our evolution? It is easy to see the patterns of survival of the fittest looking backwards. But what if dreaming is a creative force that drives our evolution forward? Not just human dreams, but the dreams of all life. These days when I am cloud gazing, I feel like I am watching our Great Mother at a whiteboard, dreaming us into being, in Her own reverie.

We know in our own lives that having a dream helps to make way for that vision to become reality. Our evolution is no different. Our dreams are interwoven forces of becoming, tumbling us together in often messy community, as they bridge the dying into new life, generation after generation.  

Dreams can change our DNA. Holding the creative life force energy of the generations to come, the seeds and eggs are where new ways of being are forged in the world. Our science simply calls them mutations. If we could speed up the story of the eons of life on our planet like a film, so that a million years became a minute, it might look a bit like the clouds we watch, shapeshifting in the sky. But evolution happens on such a slow scale that we often can’t perceive the changes, or see the results of our dreams, in our lifetimes. Even though our archeologists and paleontologists tell us otherwise, it is so very hard to comprehend, and to believe deeply that our dreams do matter for the long story of our species and our planet.


What has been the dream of the Dandelion? They have been evolving on this Earth for 30 million years, beginning somewhere near what is now Belarus in Eurasia. Today they grow on every continent except Antarctica. How has their dream unfolded through the millennia? When did they begin to dream of their seeds traveling far and wide on the wind? How long before humans were in the world would they begin to dream of being our children’s favorite flower? What is the power of a plant that tenaciously, ferociously, and doggedly pursues their dreams?

Found in the written lore of Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans, Dandelions have been food, medicine and beauty for humans throughout our history. Unlike most plants that have a history of garden use, the Dandelion has remained largely wild, thriving without any help from humans despite being closely tied to them for at least 5,000 years and surely longer, perhaps 30,000 years. These thirty millennia with humans are only one tenth of one percent of the thirty million years they have been dreaming their way of being on this planet. Dandelion learned how to be a survivor long before we came along, with their deep tap root, and an ingenious seed making strategy. Although, they did recruit us as little as 400 years ago to complete their spread to the last unclaimed continent, when Europeans brought them along on a ride to the “new world” as one of their favorite plants.

For three hundred years Americans were Dandelion eaters and lovers, as were their European ancestors. Raw, cooked, bacon-infused, brewed into a coffee substitute, fermented into wine, and used as medicine for a wide range of ailments, every part of the plant is edible. It was an incredibly valuable early spring tonic that helped many survive after a long cold winter with no vegetables or fruits left in the cellar. They were used as a dye and were even exhibited at county fairs. Grass used to be weeded out of the yard to make room for Dandelions.

But an interesting thing happened at the turn of the twentieth century. Garden clubs and civic organizations urged the beautifying of America, and people began planting grass in their front lawns. And it turned out that lawns in our temperate climate in North America are the perfect habitat for Dandelions. Once a symbol of wealth for those who could afford to maintain unproductive land, lawns have now become ubiquitous. The quest for a perfect lawn meant a war on Dandelions, and after WWII herbicides became available to help eradicate the “weeds”. A highly successful marketing ploy turned a plant venerated for all human history into an undesirable “weed” almost overnight and now 80 million pounds of herbicides are used on American suburban lawns annually.

While weeding these bright cheery flowers gave my father an excuse to lay in the grass with me looking up at the clouds, I wonder, how many dreams never happened because of the war on Dandelions? How many children never got to blow on a Dandelion puffball and make a wish? Is this one way we have been obliterating our dreams?

Despite this recent war on Dandelions, and in a time when so many plants and animals are becoming extinct, losing habitat, and unable to change quickly enough, the Dandelion just digs their tenacious roots in even deeper. They throw up their bright yellow faces everywhere they can, most notably even the cracks in the sidewalk. Thriving despite the 100-year war to eradicate them from the household mono-cropping practice of the lawn, the Dandelion is having a bit of a revival lately. There are several Dandelion festivals that have started up the last few years. Dandelion greens can sometimes be found in local supermarkets. There is a National Dandelion Day on April 5th. And the movement for “No Mow May” is gaining wide traction across many states. It encourages cities to allow homeowners to not mow their lawns for the month of May. This allows pollinators to have lots of early season flowers to feast on. Our children may again have many opportunities to grow their dreams with this wily and tenacious dreamer, the Dandelion.


When did the clouds and the flowers and our Mother Earth begin to dream humans into being all those millions of years ago? All life on the Earth is sacred, and only when we dream and co-create it together with all species can we build a better world. With the tenacity of 30 million years of Dandelion wisdom, they and all the flowers, can be our maps. How do we want to live? Can we imagine and dream a radically different world into being? How can we fundamentally change our technologies to work with the cycles of life instead of being so destructive? How can we create a world where food can be abundant and sourced locally worldwide? What if we lived in a world where all peoples saw everyone as fellow humans? Dreams of this scale will only be possible when we begin to include other species and learn to see the world as they do and dream with them, letting them guide us. They know far more, deep in their DNA, about how to evolve for long-term survival on this planet than we do.

Dandelion says, “When our seed stalks grow tall and our dream-filled seeds are ready to sail on the wind, the visions they hold are bursting with all the potent hope that each new birth brings. Carrying the wisdom of 30 million generations of Dandelion yearning, each one of our seeds blazes a new trail of bright golden yellow desire, always finding a new place to thrive and face the sun. When you make a wish and blow on our seed, adding your wishes and dreams to ours, we find new ways to grow into our futures together.”

Pick a Dandelion seedhead this spring, preferably with a child, and wish the biggest wish you can possibly imagine for our Earth and all life upon Her. Take a big breath and blow them into the wind, trusting both the seeds and the dreams will find root and grow.

One thought on “Dandelion Dreaming

  1. “…how many dreams never happened because of the war on Dandelions? How many children never got to blow on a Dandelion puffball and make a wish? Is this one way we have been obliterating our dreams?” This installment is just *chef’s kiss* Mary. Just loving + appreciating your connecting Dandelion to imagination work, imagining the future, imagining the future into being. Just gorgeous writing.

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